Here are the most popular "must-see" attractions in the Victoria area:
[ Victoria | North to Saanich | West to Sooke ]
The Saanich Peninsula runs almost 30 kilometres from Victoria to Swartz Bay. The attractions here are listed generally from south to north:
Centre of the Universe Dominion Astrophysical Observatory
5071 W Saanich Rd,
Perched on the summit of Little Saanich Mountain the Centre of the Universe gives a great view of Victoria and the Cosmos. Open daily 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays Thanksgiving through Easter) the centre offers interactive exhibits, a planetarium and tours of the historic 1.8 metre Plaskett Telescope. Stargazing through telescopes is available 7 - 11 PM Saturdays, April through October and Wednesday and Sundays, June through August.
Victoria Butterfly World
Benvenuto at Highway 17A (Brentwood)
This attraction is open every day year-round and features over 1500 butterflies in up to 150 species from around the planet. Exhibits explain the transformations as these insects mature. Many of these species are endangered in their home environment, and come from breeding farms which help rebuilt the natural populations.
800 Benvenuto Rd, off Keating Cross Road (Brentwood)
This 20 hectare year-round garden only 21 kilometres from Victoria draws 750,000 visitors a year drawn by highway billboards as far east as Calgary. Built from a limestone quarry in 1904 features a wide range of native and exotic flora, shrubs and trees. The Gardens have several feature areas including a japanese Garden, a Rose Garden, and a Sunken Garden. There are evening singers Monday - Saturday, June through September, a light display, and fireworks set to music in July and August. In December there are Christmas lights and carollers.
This 3,00 person village is appropriately, at the foot of Brentwood Bay. There is a 25 minute ferry to Mill Bay, to get you up-Island without having to drive south through Victoria (it runs every hour and 10 minutes until early evening). The oldest part of town, close to the ferry dock, is known as "Moodyville" and has many weather-worn seaside cottages and even an old English pub. On the southern edge of town alongside Tod Inlet is Butchart Gardens.
Horticultural Centre of the Pacific
505 Quayle Rd (off Beaver Lake Rd, Saanich)
This 44 hectare park and "teaching garden" hosts various native and exotic plants. Flowers are in bloom every month here. Open daily dawn till dusk.
This charming seaside town of 10,000 is the largest community on the Saanich Peninsula. The town is 2 kilometres south of Swartz Bay on the eastern shore of the Peninsula. Sidney got its start in 1894 when the Victoria-Sidney Railway began service (it stopped in 1924). The "downtown’ has lots of shops, marinas, and diving facilities all protected by its breakwater. The town is also the stop for Washington State Ferries to Anacortes and the San Juan Islands. The town is home to the Sidney Marine Mammal and Historical Museum. Just 3 kilometres offshore (and accessible by passenger-only ferry) is the Sidney Spit Marine Park. For those looking for a closer-in marine adventure, take the Sidney Harbour shuttle (250-385-1998) which connects downtown Sidney with the Blue Peter Pub in Tsehum Harbour (on Harbour Road) and then continues to Canoe Bay to the north.
Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal
Over 7 million passengers a year drive, cycle, or walk on the ferries leaving from here to the Mainland or the Gulf Islands. The road from here to Victoria is the four-lane 80 km/hour Patricia Bay Highway. For a more leisurely drive to (or from Victoria) take the West Saanich Road, which winds along the west coast of the Saanich Peninsula.